Author: Elise Kova
Series: Air Awakens (#1)
Read: October 28th-30th
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: August 27th, 2015
Genre: high fantasy
In short: okay, did I even read the same book as everyone else?! Definitely needed more editing, barely had a plot, creepy love interest, love…pentagon? And more! This is going to be a long, long review.
Goodreads: A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…
The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.
This book. This book. Air Awakens was absolutely riddled with bad writing; Vhalla’s ‘indecision’ was pretty much the entire story; she has a whole lot of cliche not-flaws (false modesty, anyone?)…I could go on for ages about why this book didn’t work for me. Skip to the end for the TL;DR version.
≫ THE PLOT:
Sorcerers were odd, they were dangerous; they kept to themselves and left normal people alone. That was why they had their own Tower, so they kept out of sight and mind. Everyone in the South had always told her so. It was the last place she belonged.
Vhalla has a quiet life in the enormous Imperial Library, tending to books and sneaking in some reading time, until the night her frantic research saves the Crown Prince’s life. Suddenly the Minister of Sorcery is taking a personal interest in her, because it turns out that she is a sorcerer too. Vhalla is convinced that there’s some kind of mistake, and that magic isn’t her thing, so she spurns the Minister’s offer and returns to do some research of her own. A mysterious stranger starts leaving letters for her, and they keep up a lively correspondence about magic until ‘The Phantom’ finally reveals himself—it’s the Crown Prince.
He then pushes her off a tower.
I wish I was joking.
He pushes her off a tower to Awaken her powers, and when she wakes up days later, in horrible pain, with broken bones and serious bodily damage, he happily informs her that the fact that she survived means she must be a Windwalker, the first one in years. Now Vhalla has a month to decide whether she will keep her strange magic—magic that could turn the tide of the war for world domination her Empire is fighting—or have it completely removed.
The premise is interesting enough, and I could’ve been on board this plot if not for the fact that Vhalla barely does anything herself. Things happen to her. Vhalla is kidnapped! Vhalla is pushed off a tower! There’s no real plot or progression of events. And the central, climactic event? Don’t even get me started. But overall, the plot wasn’t as bad for me as the other aspects of this book were.
≫ THE WRITING:
Air Awakens really, really needed another round of editing. There are loads of grammatical errors and examples of awkward, confusing, or plain incorrect sentence construction. The dialogue tags! Oh, stars, the dialogue tags!
The thing is, writing a book is a complete coin-toss with respect to the actual story, the matter of the book. That’s subjective. You can never be certain that your readers will love your book. You can, however, be certain that the quality of language is as high as it possibly can be. Disappointing, and unprofessional.
…when the hairs at the nape of her neck raised on end.
Rose. Not raised.
Soldiers – your father – came home because the magical warriors of the Black Legion.
Pinned to the man’s breast was a symbol she knew well. She would know that symbol—a symbol that hovered over her every waking hour— better than any in the world.
Would? What’s with the tenses?
It was actually Vhalla who felt shamed when the woman began to clean up her spew that puddled on the floor.
Vhalla may be a bad liar but that wouldn’t stop her from looking for a lie in others.
Vhalla couldn’t suppress a small giggle, it was the first time she laughed in a week, and it made her whole body feel lighter.
It was about time that she met a sorcerer with gentle and happy manner.
“This isn’t going to work,” she muttered doubtfully. Her conviction quickly vanishing.
“Take care of yourself,” Larel demanded gently.
Help. Please help me.
“I understand,” Larel nodded and said with a tone that made Vhalla believe her.
The kitchens served a small cake with tea or lunches for nobles and royals. White sugar glaze on top, Vhalla coveted the spongy yellow sweet throughout the year.
So Vhalla has white sugar glaze on top of her? Modifiers!
Giant stands extended up from the wall that were supposed to be reminiscent of the sun’s rays.
…at her eyes continued refusal to focus.
…trying to avoid the silence from stretching on for too long.
…but it was the trace of worry between his brows did not reassure Vhalla.
…the Emperor boomed warmly, not unlike Prince Baldair she thought amusingly.
…She would be torture for Aldrik to watch her die.
“And your black robe,” she said very matter of fact.
≫ THE SETTING:
The Solaris Empire was interesting, and sort of reminiscent of the Fire Nation from Avatar: The Last Airbender. I wish we’d understood more about the worldbuilding though, because this book conveys it either through Vhalla’s letters with Aldrik—very confusingly, and by no means thoroughly—or through her research. Pretty sure that’s almost as bad as worldbuilding explained in a lesson. Also, the magic system? We know next to nothing. What is Awakening, what is Eradication, what are the Channels? Honestly, we should be learning right alongside Vhalla, but none of this is ever explained to us properly despite the fact that she spends half the book reading about it. You can’t avoid an info-dump by not giving the reader any information at all.
≫ THE PROTAGONIST:
I am not special. I have never been someone who is special.
She was a library apprentice, no one—less than.
Vhalla had always been jealous of Roan’s hair and generally everything else about her. Vhalla’s hair was a dark brown mess of frizz and untamable waves; Roan’s fell in beautiful curls. Southerners were lucky with their light skin and features. Even the Gods were shown that way. Vhalla felt perpetually inadequate compared to Southerners and Westerners. Those in the East had yellow-hued skin with dark brown eyes and wavy hair. Nothing was fantastic about her.
Her dark brown eyes—flecked with gold…
I thought I’d be free of this kind of heroine forever. Vhalla is the kind of MC that haunts my nightmares. She’s a total special snowflake with barely any redeeming qualities. She thinks she’s plain and unattractive—with a bonus of mild racism!—and she has one prince and one hot childhood friend tripping over their feet to get at her, plus another handsome prince who thinks she’s beautiful. She only comes to accept this after the latter commissions a makeover for her. I’m sick to death of this. If a character is unattractive, she should just be unattractive. False modesty is enormously irritating. She thinks she’s smart, but she hardly uses her common sense—she doesn’t use any kind of proper etiquette around Aldrik after the second time they meet. She’s goes straight to calling him a pain! She’s completely indecisive about her magic, and doesn’t even try to find out more aside from her books and what other people tell her. She could at least have tried! Vhalla is not the kind of character I’d root for.
Vhalla seems to be a person of colour. Then why does the book cover have a blonde white girl on it? The second book’s cover does too. I thought we were past this whitewashing nonsense, come on.
≫ THE OTHER CHARACTERS:
Not! Developed! Well enough! Vhalla’s best friend Roan randomly morphs into some demonic mean girl at the end; her other friend Sareem plays the role of Poor Friendzoned Childhood Friend (hello, Simon Lewis without a personality!). Larel, another sorcerer, doesn’t display much of a personality either. Baldair is the typical heartbreaking prince. Only one character could really be called developed, and I wish he hadn’t even existed.
Crown Prince Aldrik, our love interest, is possibly five people in one body. This lovely Jerk With a Heart of Gold could push you off a tower, insult you mercilessly, or actually act like a decent human being, all depending on his mood! As a love interest, he’s super-problematic, which I will discuss later, and he’s absolutely unoriginal. He’s literally every creepy YA love interest, in a high fantasy setting. He’s also arrogant, superior, and an all-around a-hole. It was not nice knowing him.
≫ OF VILLAINS:
There are no proper villains here because guess what! There’s barely any conflict until the random climax, which introduces random villains that required a better understanding of the Empire’s war situation. Not good enough.
≫ THE ROMANCE:
He slapped at her fingers then grabbed her chin, forcing her face up to look at his. The jerking motion was painful, and she barely managed to suppress a whimper. Vhalla was fairly certain he would’ve liked that even less.
“Stay there,” he spoke slowly. “Stay on the floor where you belong. You are like a pathetic little worm who only wants to sit in the dirt when I was prepared to give you a chance to grow wings and fly.”
Wasn’t that super hawt? Can’t you really feel the love? These are from Aldrik and Vhalla’s first interactions. I get that he’s supposed to be a ‘bad boy’ or whatever, but I simply do not understand how one gets past being physically and verbally abused. This is exactly what Aldrik does to her. He brings a whole new meaning to kiss/kill. Ladies, this tumultuous romance could literally have you tumbling from a tower window! Isn’t that so exciting? Comes with free bodily harm! And of course, Vhalla being Vhalla, the very next time she sees him after he calls her a pathetic little worm, she’s joking around with him because she’s seen his sensitive side, or whatever.
What? Is this what you want to teach girls? That guys like this can be forgiven because they’re insecure?! He literally could’ve got her killed. And this is his logic:
“Because air cannot hurt Windwalkers, like fire cannot hurt Firebearers,” he pointed out.
Listen, buddy, let me teach you something about the world. When you fall out of a building, you don’t die because the wind hits you too hard. You die because of your impact. Because you hit the earth. If she’d randomly started floating, or something, I would’ve bought that. But she fell! Completely! And apparently there was no other way to Awaken her powers? This guy is as unstable as a radioactive nucleus, and she apparently has a magical bond with him.
But she remembered the words of the minister; the prince had been the one who had taken her to the Tower in the first place, and she likely would’ve died without that.
Honey, you likely would’ve died because he pushed you out of a window.
If that wasn’t bad enough, we have Sareem, who’s apparently hopelessly in love with Vhalla, God knows why. And we get this beautiful gem:
She had actually agreed to a date of sorts with Sareem. Sareem! But what else was she to do when he kissed her?
What the hell.
Not only do we suffer through this dreadful love triangle, it expands to become a square and possibly a pentagon. I’m not going to tell you who’s involved, but suffice to say it is bad.
≫ THE ENDING:
The climactic fight/event was interesting, foreshadowed okay, and written well enough, but. BUT. It’s all about Prince Aldrik. It kills me that even though Vhalla is enormously powerful and a key weapon, the reason she gets into danger is Aldrik. The climax of her story is not even because of her; it revolves entirely around him. She’s powerful and she’s your main character and she’s stepping up to her responsibilities and of course the ‘bad guys’ only use her against the Crown Prince. Gag.
≫ TO SUMMARISE:
Disclaimer, loads of people have rated this five stars. You could enjoy this. But be prepared for:
- bad plot
- bad love interest
- love triangle/square thing
- annoying special snowflake heroine
I wouldn’t recommend this book.